Bourbon Street. Check. Cafe du Monde. Check. Absinthe with egg. Huh?
Hopefully by now you’ve visited The Big Easy (if only for the beignets). But if you haven’t experienced these under-the-radar New Orleans gems, it’s time to go back.
Normally ellipticals are like Lean Cuisine on vacay: off limits. But the New Orleans Athletic Club (222 North Rampart Street; 504-525-2375) is a must, if only to gawk at the chic indoor marble pool, ballroom yoga classes, old-school boxing ring, and cardio rooms outfitted with crown moldings and chandeliers. Not to mention the historical landmark’s fully loaded bar. (Sweat, then champagne? Niiiiice.)
The Old Absinthe House (240 Bourbon Street; 504-523-3181) is the stuff of legends. Most go during the wee hours, but we like a morning visit (from 9 a.m. daily) when seats are easier to come by and the absinthe Suissesse, purported to cure hangovers, is actually necessary.
Nutella custard. Need we say more? Charming French bistro Lilette (3637 Magazine Street; 504-895-1636) serves the best desserts in town (snaps for seasonal artisan ice creams and double chocolate cookies). A close second: Sucré (3025 Magazine Street; 504-520-8311), a budding bakery and gelato boutique already known for its Tiffany chocolate and raspberry mousse treat.
Sorry, are we still eating and drinking? Apparently so, and we don’t hear anyone complaining. Hotel Monteleone’s big top-themed Carousel Bar (214 Royal Street; 504-523-3341) is nothing new, but regulars at the revolving bar (yeah, it spins) would say you haven’t been until you’ve put back a Cajun caipirinha made with fresh lime, simple syrup, and Old New Orleans Cajun Spice rum.
Most stores on Magazine have deep (okay, ancient) roots. But youngster Source (2103 Magazine Street; 504-561-7558) sells updated Swedish furnishings and abstract art by one of the owners. Another refreshing break from the rue’s period pieces: Pied Nu (5521 Magazine Street; 504-899-4118) for hip home wares (vintage kantha shams, tea glasses, metallic Moroccan poufs), women’s clothing, and jewelry.
Puttin’ on the Ritz
Screw Bourbon Street. Every Thursday night, The Ritz-Carlton (921 Canal Street; 504-524-1331) invites local celebs (chefs, TV personalities) to belly up to the bar and dish free Davenportinis to visitors at the Davenport Lounge, named for in-house cutie jazz crooner Jeremy Davenport. His live Rat Pack-style sets every Friday and Saturday (9 p.m.-1 a.m.) are a must, too.
See? It’s always Jazz Fest around here.
Looking for more nearby getaways? Check into Summer Trippin’.